A glitch that disabled registers at thousands of Starbucks stores Friday was a reminder of the invisible systems restaurants rely on to run increasingly sophisticated operations.
Registers that once merely rang up tabs and stored cash have evolved into hubs that can collect enormous volumes of data and carry out many tasks.
They process credit cards, send orders to computer screens in kitchens and help run loyalty programs. In the industry, they’re called point-of-sale, or POS, systems, and vary greatly in what they can do.
The register malfunction that forced Starbucks to close stores last week was surprisingly large; it affected all company-owned stores, or more than 60 percent of roughly 13,500 locations in the U.S. and Canada.